Did we make a mistake in our top ten midfielders list?

Date published: Friday 5th May 2017 12:00

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com.


So bad they couldn’t make Sami Hyypia finish
For crying out loud Jose, just make them practice shooting!
Mark Danger Endicott, MUFC


In Sarah Winterburn’s article ‘Next season could belong to Pogba‘, she rightly praised him for producing probably one of his best performance in a Man United shirt after his £89m move from Juventus. Sadly, tragically, and very funnily, ABUs (Anyone But United) were out in force trying to pour cold water on such an impressive performance by Pogba.

Led by our chief German correspondent Wolfgang, who BTW wrote an entire book about how Pogba was bad last night, these ABUs couldn’t see a single thing the United midfield powerhouse did well last night. Some suggested that Pogba is struggling to replicate his form coz of playing in a faster English Premiership. Others even ridiculed the notion of the EPL as being fast-paced and physical to boot. But all these ABUs agreed on one thing; Pogba ain’t sh!t.

Football rivalry is one thing but to denigrate Pogba’s performance last night is to be pathetic, myopic, idiotic, psychotic, and every other negative tic you can think off. But I guess that’s the price United fans have to pay for playing for the bestest team in the world and having the most expensive footballer on our books. But ABUs please, get a grip fools.

PS-The bile and heated arguments from the ABUs warms my heart on cold winter nights, and for that I’m thankful.


Vital away goal?
A little musing for this Friday morning; in a two-legged knockout tie, if you win the away leg without your opposition scoring, you haven’t scored a ‘vital away goal’.

As we all know, away goals only become relevant when there is an aggregate tie. The only way that can be achieved is if your opponent then matches the magnitude of your win, so your away goal can never be the deciding factor. Take United’s result last night. Away goals won’t decide the match unless the outcome is 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 (and so on) to Celta Vigo, in which case, they will be the victor.

Although it sounds a bit backwards, if Celta had scored once yesterday, then Rashford’s goal could be vital, because a goalless draw at Old Trafford would see United through to the final. If Celta has won 2-1, then a 1-0 home win for United would render Rashford’s goal vital.

I suppose it may depend on how you define it. The goal could, needless to say, prove to be ‘vital’. But it would not be a ‘vital away’ goal. Why Mr. Chicken didn’t highlight this in his footballing lexicon piece recently, I just don’t know.

Have a good weekend.
Chris, SAF Stand


The away goals rule has been around for over 50 years, it’s not complicated, yet to my amazement there are still people out there who don’t seem to understand it. Your latest headline after Man United won the first leg by a 0-1 scoreline typifies one of the most annoying examples. Rashford’s winner in that game cannot possibly be a “vital away goal”. I hope that you were just trolling me and that you understand exactly why – there is, after all, not much to understand. If you don’t, then might you please present a scenario by which United can now win this tie based on the away goals rule?

Don’t get me started on the “away goals count double” muppets (of which there are still a few).



This will all be on you, Arsenal
Tickets for this weekend’s match between Arsenal and United are on Ticket Exchange.

No matter how our season has been going in the past, the game against United for all season ticket holders has always been a must see. But this weekend the club faces the very real prospect of banks of empty seats against United.

If Arsenal don’t do something about this husbands and wives across the country, used to getting their house to themselves for an entire afternoon and evening, will increasingly having to put up with their partners staying in with them and getting under their feet. And the divorce rate will inevitably rise and children that would have been born won’t be born.

Is that what you want Arsenal? because that’s what will happen.

I can’t get even to cricket instead this weekend – Songs of Praise it is then!
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Cesc is the difference
Not to disagree with your placement on the top ten central midfielders list, but I would argue that Fabregas could be the difference between Chelsea winning the league and not.

As you said, he has 4 goals and 9 assists in 1046 minutes. He his tied fourth on the assist list, along with Sanchez, and only 4 behind KDB. All this while being 282nd on the list of minutes played. He has played a good 1800 minutes less than Sanchez & Eriksen (12 assists), and a good 1500 & 1400 behind KDB & Ozil (7) respectively. The nearest Liverpool and United players are Lallana (1100 minutes more & 7 assists) and Herrera (1300 & 6).That is quite astonishing.

I did try, and subsequently fail, to find when he assisted he goals (if someone knows where that would be great!), but any team who has a player that can come off the bench and have such an impact in a limited amount of time, makes the difference between there and thereabouts!
Néill, (Solskjær-esqe), Ireland


On this day in 2014, crystabul happened. Things you might have forgotten that happened that day.

-Liverpool spurned a 3-0 first half lead to draw 3-3.
-Dwight gayle scored a quick fire late double.
-Suarez cried with Gerrard consoling him and vice versa.
-The draw all but ended liverpool’s title hope.

I sound dailymail-like, hope mediawatch doesn’t pick on me. (Happy crystabul to mufc and lfc fans).


Big Weekend‘s little brother
West Ham United – Tottenham. It was early March last season when West Ham stopped Spurs’ six-match winning streak with a 1-0 win at Upton Park. The defeat dropped Tottenham from two points behind Leicester City to three, and they never got within striking distance again. But tonight it’s a different stadium and a different West Ham, still fighting off relegation and missing at least four of their outfield players from that match, including Dimitri Payet and goalscorer Michail Antonio. To have any chance at repeating the feat, the Hammers will have to be brave, and do what they did last year: press. The problem is that it’s a different Tottenham as well: much more assured, much less likely to lose focus. West Ham are likely to stick with the 3-5-2 that has delivered two consecutive clean sheets, which means Son Heung-Min, who plays the widest of Spurs’ attackers, might be the key man.

Stat: In the latest shot-stopping rankings (follow Paul Riley on Twitter for more), Hugo Lloris is first by a large margin, ahead of Tom Heaton and (surprise!) Petr Cech. Adrian ranks 10th and Darren Randolph 19th.

Swansea City – Everton. Paul Clement’s diamond may not be as big as the Ritz, but it’s sparkling just enough to get by. The formation should match up well against the Toffees, who these days are stronger in the middle than on the wings. Federico Fernández had his best game of the season (maybe his best ever for the Swans) last week against Manchester United, but if Romelu Lukaku plays from the right as usual, it’ll be Alfie Mawson who’ll be under the most pressure. Leon Britton has been a crucial stabilizer at the base of midfield. Fernando Llorente will try to match up in the air against Ashley Williams, who’s below average in aerial duel percentage. Hard to believe Everton haven’t won away from home since the 21st of January, and have only four away wins this season. Motivation-wise, do they believe they can catch Arsenal? The two sides meet the final weekend.

Stat: Romelu Lukaku has six tackles for the season, the fewest of any outfield player in the league with over 1500 minutes played.

Liverpool – Southampton. The vultures may not yet be circling over Claude Puel, but they’ve noted his name for future reference. The Saints have been pretty lifeless lately, and a third game in four against a top-four club doesn’t figure to help much. In the reverse fixture at St. Mary’s, Liverpool completely dominated, shots total 15-3, but Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino both missed when clear through on goal and they had to settle for 0-0. If Puel decides to play conservatively, as has been his pattern against top clubs, another 0-0 could very well be on the cards. Liverpool have been ponderous themselves in recent weeks, and Can can’t do that every week, can he? Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens can be drawn out of position, but the Reds will need better movement and interplay from the Mané-less front three.

Stat: From open play, Nathan Redmond has 55 key passes but only one assist.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


A message from Newport
Good morning mailbox,

Long time reader first time writer here. I would just like to give a shout to the boys tomorrow. Been following county since I was a nipper my dad and grandad used to take me when I was young. I’ve been through all the ups and downs. A few months back we looked dead and buried but know we have our fate in our hands.

What a turn around by Michael Flyn since he came in. All the talk about Arsenal and United this weekend and Liverpool chasing the top 4. The real game of the weekend will be at Rodney Parade Saturday at 5. We win and we sray in the league despite looking dead and byried a few weeks back.

Tom just a bit excited South Wales


Wenger v Souness
Is that the home dressing room at Anfield on your piece on Football’s ‘Lad’ culture article and have you removed the names on the shirts so as to not associate the chipppy Scouse brigade with an article on 1970s thinking? You know how we can mobilise…?

All that tin-foil stuff aside I think you are bang on the money [again] with your defenestration of S**ness. As my many mailbox submissions will attest Graeme Souness is IMHO one of the finest midfielders ever to play the game and since him only Royston Keane has been fit to lace his boots. He was, however, an umitigated disaster as Gaffer. Results and conduct were both beyond unacceptable.  That said I think he is also a titan of a pundit. Erudite, quick-witted, balanced and without peer.

But he’s way off the mark with his Wenger only did well when he could pick up Frenchies rhetoric. Granted, I find it hilarious that Stade Reims are a bigger noise in Europe than Arsenal and by Sir Alex Ferguson’s own admission he feels they should have won some more European Cups in comparson to, say, Bob Paisley but to use his phrase “I’m not having it” that Wenger lucked out by being French and at that time. Not having it.

Wenger may not have reinvented English footbal but he did raise the bar on recruiting the leading lights outside of these shores. His unbeaten team was quite something to behold and I saw them home and away that season and I can pay them no bigger accolade than to say they reminded me of us in their pomp! Luck and his own obdurance likely means he will be remembered as much for not winning Ol’ Big Ears as much as those VaVa Voom teams but simplyt by happenstance of birth!?

I’m not having it Graeme.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC


Football’s lost it
I’m just reading this mornings gossip column, as I do everyday and once again I can’t believe some of the numbers on display.

Now I appreciate this is “gossip” but £95-£110m for mbappe……what’s going on??

Yes the kid has talent but let’s not forget he is a KID who has played one season in a reasonably uncompetitive league and scored 15-20 goals (not checked stats) how does that equal the £100m

Then I read further down Oblak a very good goalkeeper no question, €100m buy out clause, he’s a goalkeeper…..no player is worth the figures being touted nowadays.

Seems every time a “top club” comes in for a player, regardless of age/experience/position/achievements the starting price is £50m

Football has lost touch with reality and it makes me quiet sad.


A stat
This will be only the third time since 2002 that Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn’t ended the season as a league champion. (The other two times were 2003 when he was at Ajax, and 2012 when he was at Milan). If it wasn’t for Messi and Ronaldo he’d surely be remembered as one of the greats of all time.
Robert, Brighton.


Having read Steven Chicken’s article and having been involved in Sunday football for 20 years, it has left me wondering if the #ladz and #bantz culture of young footballers, which leads to the overgrown child-like behaviour of retired pros (manifesting in the PFM), is as prevalent in footballers outside of the UK.

I don’t watch a huge amount of football analysis and I’ve only just started listening to some of the excellent podcasts suggested on these esteemed pages, nor do I have a great interest in players outside of the 90 minutes that I see them play, so I don’t have any great insight into foreign ex-pros or, more importantly, foreign players who were trained and educated abroad.

My query is, are young non-British footballers (and their elder and retired counterparts) infinitely more rounded and mature individuals or are they as “leg grabby, set fire to suits and shit in shoes” and laddish as British players are?
In addition to this, does the behaviour and maturity of young foreign (or British) players who have been trained (and educated) in the UK since their mid teens differ from foreign (or British) players who have been trained (and educated) abroad?
Deano (I realise there are massive generalisations in this mail but I’m just curious) Didcot

More Related Articles